Contemporary love meets Hindu mythology

Vivek Shraya shares the inspiration behind his newest book She of the Mountains

Vivek Shraya author of She of the Moutains and diversity, equity and human rights advisor at George Brown College

Vivek Shraya, author of She of the Moutains and George Brown College’s diversity, equity and human rights advisor
Photo by Zachary Ayotte

Two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist Vivek Shraya has done it again with his newest book She of the Mountains.

Personal experiences bring strength to this story. Using contemporary love with passionate stories from Hindu mythology, Vivek Shraya, the author and human rights advisor at George Brown College (GBC), brings power and light to the importance of hatred, love and self-acceptance.

“I have experienced a lot of bi-phobia, discrimination that bisexuals essentially face. It exists outside the community like homophobia, but what’s interesting and challenging about biphobia is that it exists within the queer and trans communities,” said Shraya. “There’s this idea that if you’re bi it’s not a real identity, you’re closeted, you’re confused, there’s even jokes like ‘bi now, gay later,’ it’s not really seen as an identity.”

Illustration by Raymond Biesinger in She of the Mountains

Illustration by Raymond Biesinger in She of the Mountains
 Photo courtesy of Vivek Shraya

“After years of experiencing this kind of discrimination, I really wanted to create a project that would speak to it so I thought why not write a story, a bi-queer love story that would kind of challenge readers,” said Shraya.

Shraya wants readers to fall in love first with the characters and their stories, and then realize the subconscious biases they have, challenging their assumptions about love and who a person can love or be with.

She of the Mountains describes the journey through struggles of love and hate in relationships. In Shraya’s own experiences, he found that hate had prevented him from receiving love from others. He sought to explore hate and how it can embed itself in the body and prevent someone from experiencing love, and he realized that he couldn’t write a love story without exploring how the experience of hate is so embedded in the ideology of love.

“Sometimes in relationships, we have a tendency to take each other for granted,” and, “especially when you live with someone, even if you work hard at not doing this, you assume the other persons in the room at all times and sometimes I think you need to lose someone to remember their value.”

Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya
 Photo by Zachary Ayotte

“Without loss there’s no value,” says Shraya.

He also tells the story using Hindu mythology and its “interesting, strange and passionate stories of embodiment…that ended up being an interesting counterpoint to the love story,” said Shraya.

She of the Mountains has thus far been a success, and Shraya says that it is now available in certain parts of the United States. His books, including What I Love About Being Queer and God Loves Hair have also been adopted as textbooks in post-secondary schools across Canada, according to his official website.

On writing a book, Shraya says, “the hardest thing about writing, is writing.” He strongly believes in exercising the “muscle” he describes writing to be, something that can be built up like a bicep through working out.

He tells writers and future writers that finding a daily writing practice is important. Speaking on his own current writing endeavours, Shraya says he has started writing again and keeps a journal for those times when he is not focused on his next book as a way to keep him writing.

With the success of She of the Mountains, readers can be sure to expect nothing but quality writing from him in the future.

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Contemporary love meets Hindu mythology